Steve Niedbalski shows his drought and heat stricken corn, Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Nashville Ill. Farmers in parts of the Midwest are dealing with the worst drought in nearly 25 years.(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
As the rains stay away, the amount of money families will soon spend to stay alive will likely rise like the mercury.
Experts estimate dairy product prices will jump about six percent. Beef prices, after perhaps falling briefly, will rise at least five percent.
But corn and soybean products will be hit the worst. And prices will soon spike 10 percent, perhaps more.
"Transportation costs, all that stuff, it’s going to affect everything,” said Chicagoan Tina Cole. She’s planning on adding $15 to her $150 monthly grocery fund.
Cereal, tortilla chips, ice cream, milk and pizza are just a few family kitchen staples that will soon cost more. But so will some things few consumers think about.
Many barbecue sauces use high fructose corn syrup. Most soda pops are loaded with it too. Some over the counter medicines use corn starch, so a price increase could be coming to the pharmacy.
Over in dairy, margarine is made from soy, and the crop is looking dismal.
Even flavored waters, energy drinks and sweeteners have sucralose, or dextrose, which can often contain corn ingredients. And those popular energy bars, many are made from soy as well.
"I don’t like it," said Chicagoan Eric Pense. "But there’s nothing the farmers can do. It looks like they’re going to lose half their crops. It’s not about being more expensive, it’s about there being less of everything."
Prices could remain high when many parents are doing their back-to-school shopping in a month or two. The crayons and chalk that many kids need contain corn starch as the binding agent. And anyone who's packing up belongings for a big move might want to consider buying their cardboard sooner rather than later. Corn starch binds the ridges or corrugated cardboard, too.
Fifty-five percent of the continental U.S. was in a moderate to extreme drought by the end of June, NOAA's National Climactic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said in its monthly State of the Climate drought report. That's the largest percentage since December 1956, when 58 percent of the country was covered by drought.
Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday pledged state support through loans and debt restructuring to farmers and ranchers punished by a nagging drought that shows no signs of abating anytime soon.